Six Levels of Moral Development

Chapter 2 of the book Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire is titled “Searching for Level VI” wherein the author talks about the six levels of moral development. He says that he teaches these on day one. As part of the assignment for my education class, we were asked to list personal examples of each level. For this post though, I’m going to take one example- cooking dinner- and apply it to all six levels.

6levelsLevel 1: I don’t want to get in trouble.

I cook dinner because I don’t want to get in trouble with my spouse, parents, roommate, significant other, etc.

Level 2: I want a reward.

I cook dinner because I want to hear the praise, get dessert, or receive flowers from aforementioned person.

Level 3: I want to please somebody.

I cook dinner to make somebody happy that is not me. It’s catered to that person’s likes or dislikes.

Level 4: I follow the rules.

I use a recipe exactly when I cook dinner because I am not a chef and this person knows what’s best for this dish.

Level 5: I am considerate of other people.

I cook dinner and invite lots of people over or cook for a soup kitchen so that everyone can have a home-cooked meal.

Level 6: I have a personal code of behavior, and I follow it.

I cook dinner because it’s what I do. People need to eat. I can cook. Easy. Done.

This particular example may not be best for younger kids, but it could instill level 5 thinking by making them think about it from their mom or dad’s perspective. It also might gage at which level a child’s thinking is.

So, why would you cook dinner?



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